Amnesty International stands by its evidence that people, including children, are suffering insurmountable long-term damage and are attempting suicide while on Nauru.
Amnesty International’s report ‘Island of Despair’: Australia’s “processing” of refugees in Nauru provides evidence of mental health deterioration, evidence of the lack of appropriate medical care and evidence of the length to which the Australian Government has gone to to cover up what’s really going on in Nauru.
These horrific and unpalatable facts are what need to be addressed.
The Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and his Department have failed to provide any evidence contrary to what our report very clearly states.
While Amnesty International’s report highlighted the epidemic of self harm, depression and attempted suicides on the island, in a media interview yesterday with The Australian report author, Anna Neistat, Senior Director of Research at Amnesty International described in detail three cases and made it clear that three attempted suicides of children is three too many.
Anna Neistat described in detail the case of a nine-year old boy who tried to set himself on fire. A 13 year-old boy who attempted suicide several times, and whose father said that in the small room he has to hide any sharp objects or medication, and does not allow his son to go out, fearing for his life.
The third case involved a 13 year-old girl who, according to her sister, first tried to cut her veins and then overdosed on medication. Her family found her unconscious. The doctors managed to save her but at the time of the interview with the Amnesty International researcher, the girl was still recovering and did not eat, speak, and refused to interact, even with her family.
If even three children attempting to kill themselves is not enough for Minister Dutton to act, Amnesty International’s 7 million supporters would like to know, when will the Government act and change this cruel policy?
The fact remains that the Australian Government’s “processing” of refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru is a deliberate and systematic regime of neglect and cruelty, and amounts to torture under international law.
If the Australian Government has nothing to hide, as it claims, they should ensure full access to Nauru for independent media, lawyers, human rights organisations and researchers.
Evidence amounting to torture
Amnesty International was instrumental in setting up the Convention Against Torture (CAT). In 1973 Amnesty launched the first ever global campaign to end torture.
We have 55 years of experience in identifying and eradicating torture and understand very well what is defined as torture under CAT.
Amnesty International does not use this term unless there is evidence that it meets the definition of torture. Torture is an extremely serious allegation and we do not make this claim lightly.
Department of Immigration and Border Protection claim
In response to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection claim that we did not consult with them:
Ten days before the report launch, Amnesty International sent a summary of its overall findings to officials of the Department of Immigration seeking their input regarding the violations of international law documented in the report.
Amnesty International gave the Department the right to reply and explained that the organisation would publish their response alongside the report if they responded within the given time frame.
The Department has not yet provided a detailed response to Amnesty International’s findings and recommendations.